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Phil de Fries calls for fight with Francis Ngannou when he returns to MMA: ‘If not me, who else?’

Phil de Fries on The MMA Hour

Phil de Fries believes he’s the best possible choice for Francis Ngannou’s return to MMA.

This past Saturday, de Fries successfully defended his KSW heavyweight title with a second-round submission of Szymon Bajor at KSW 84. The win was de Fries’ ninth straight title defense and sixth straight finish and now the British fighter has his sights set on the biggest game in town: lineal heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou.

“I honestly feel like I’m too good for most heavyweights in the entire world,” de Fries told Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour. “I spar great, I do well against the best guys, I feel I’m a problem for anyone. [KSW] continue to find good guys. Martin [Lewandowski] reached out for a possible Ngannou fight, which would be a dream fight for me. Let’s make that happen. It would be nice to come in as a heavy underdog for once.”

Any fight between de Fries and Ngannou would have to be a co-promotion, as de Fries still has one fight left on his current KSW contract and Ngannou signed with the PFL earlier this year. De Fries knows that’s a long shot, but he’s holding out hope it can happen because he believes he’s the best possible opponent for Ngannou.

“They can make it happen,” de Fries said. “Let’s do a cross promotion, let’s bring it over. Let’s just do it. I think I’m the right sort of guy to beat Francis. You need a grappler to beat that sort of guy and I’d be more than happy to do it wherever. Let’s just get it on.”

“It probably is a long shot, but I think it’s a fight I could win and I think it’s a fight people want to see,” de Fries continued. “If not me, who else?”

And if the two promotions can’t work something out, de Fries isn’t ruling out the possibility that he can part ways with his longtime home after his contract runs up in January. Part of Ngannou’s deal with the PFL ensures that an future opponent he faces will make at least $2 million, and de Fries notes that’s the kind of payday that can change the math for him.

“KSW, they look after me,” de Fries said. “They haven’t had any funny business with it. I’ll see what they offer. They always offer me the best money, but I am going to chase this Francis thing because $2 million, that’s a lot of money for the kids. That’s like dream life money.”

“When Francis announced that he would get $2 million for his opponent, I thought, that’s something to go in for,” de Fries added. “But like I said, who else but me? Who else? I honestly think I can beat him, I really do. People laugh but you’ve got to shoot for the stars. I believe I can beat that man.

In the meantime though, Ngannou has bigger fish to fry. “The Predator” is now set to face de Fries’ countryman, heavyweight champion Tyson Fury in a boxing match in October. In fact, Fury has a relationship with de Fries’ training partner Tom Aspinall, and de Fries says he may actually be called in to help Fury prepare for Ngannou.

“Look at me, I’m probably one of the best heavyweight grapplers in the whole world, I don’t think I’d last two minutes against Gordon Ryan,” de Fries said. “It’s just these pure breed people, they’re a cut above. Francis has his chance, he could knock him out, but I think Fury is going to be too clever for him. In fact, I think my name is in the hat to go and do a bit of sparring with Fury, because he needs guys who can box a bit and can clinch a bit. So Tyson, get me up, man! I’m your man!”

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